IT MUST BE DERBY DAY!!  (Blimp over the Downs)

It was a very typical Derby morning in Old Louisville.  The day was brilliant, the temperature mild:  a vibrant spring morning.  The Kentucky Derby is about tradition, and nowhere in the city is tradition so keenly felt as here in Old Louisville.  A simple look down the street confirms that.  Except for the blimp hovering in the air above Churchill Downs, the view is the same as it has been every Derby morning for over one hundred years.  Nowhere else in the city, except maybe Churchill Downs, can you feel this much connection to the history and the tradition of the Kentucky Derby.  

Ain't they just adorable?Even if you never go to the track, you'll notice that there is something special in the air here on Derby morning.  That's because there seems to be something in the human spirit that cries out for a time to be ones best...or at least to look ones best...and enjoy the finest that life has to offer.  Guess who's hat?Speaking of finery, there's always an impromptu fashion show in Old Louisville on Derby Morning that can usually only be seen these days in the rarest high society.  Just look at these ladies on an Old Louisville porch.  All at once they turned to greet an offering of mint juleps (of course, in sterling julep cups, need you ask?  The 'holy trinity' of mint julep, mimosa and Bloody Mary are not hard to find in Old Louisville on Derby morn.) 

Sexy!!  Sterrrrrrrretchhhhh!On Derby Day, the limousines pass down Third and Fourth Streets by the dozens on their way from the city center to the Downs, passing the limos in waiting here in Old Louisville.  And every year, if you know where to look, you'll find Woody, with his pet parrot Peeky (rotten bird...first-hand experience), sitting on the steps enjoying the promenade.  Woody has lived in Old Louisville for the better part of two decades.  He's restored more than just one Old Louisville mansion, and is very proud, as most of us here are, of our little corner of the planet.

Derby 2003 Derby 1897
The Clampett's (they moved from Beverly Hills, you know) got into the spirit of the day by premiering their new Limo in the limo zone in front of the Culbertson Mansion.  Compared with Derby 1897, it just seemed the appropriate thing to do.  And thank goodness, because otherwise Old Louisville's own "Ollie Lou" (you may have met her at one of the recent St. James Court Art Shows) would likely never have gotten a ride to and from the Derby. 
Click to see Ollie so large she'll scare you! Click to see her picture suitable for framing
Here's Ollie on her arrival back from the track:  exhausted from the long day
but ecstatic.  You see, she picked the winner, Funny Cide, on the Exacta!
Last we heard, Ollie left for Vegas right after this, and then she'll be
vacationing in the south of France for the rest of the summer.
(Old Louisville folks are well known for and proud of their political incorrectness.)
But don't worry, she'll be back home in plenty of time for the next Art Show!

(Now where did you see that hat before?)We love you, Tammy!Is that Tammy Faye strolling down Burnett?  You bet!  You just never know who you might meet out and about in Old Louisville on Derby Day.  And let us tell you 'that is one sweet lady!'  Someone asked her who her favorite for the big race would be.  "Ten Most Wanted," she quipped, "Because I already have two husbands in the pen."  

We love you, Lady Chablis!And then if you happened to attend one of the many Derby brunches in Old Louisville on Derby Day you may have also run into The Lady Chablis.  You'll remember her from her role, playing herself, in the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  (Did you know that she ad-libbed all but two lines in that movie?)  And you know what else? She's just the same person in real life.  Being around her was just like stepping into the movie in many ways.  And for the morning, Old Louisville seemed a just little bit more like Savannah...



With a vim and swish, she mounts the coach
In a feathered hat and laces,
And long, pale gloves and high-heeled boots--
Then away and away to the races!

And the coach, youth-burdened, reckless swings
To the tune of the joy that tops it,
'Till the clean-cut track and gay grand stand
Is the sight alone that tops it.

In that great bouquet, like a cool-stemmed flower,
She sways serene--the sinner--
Just underneath her lace corsage
Is tucked a wad for winner.

And she bets with a dash that scares the men,
Who are doubtful of her sure tips,
But the wad grows big and taunting smiles
makes "told-you-sos" of red lips.

Then here's to her with lots of nerve,
And prettiest of faces:
It's horse and girl, not "horse and horse,"
When Louisville's at the races.
                           ---I. S. B.

Poem and graphics from the Courier-Journal Sunday May 4 1902

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